Wednesday October 25, 2023


In the drought-plagued western United States, mountain snowpack is a vital source of water.

Spring melting replenishes downslope rivers as temperatures slowly rise. But as climate change makes such variables as precipitation and temperature less predictable, managing this vital source of water has become a challenge. Scientists have warned that current snowmelt models remain stuck in the past.

“The current models are based upon statistical relationships that assume the future is going to be like the past. And I think we know now that we can’t rely on that assumption,” said McKenzie Skiles, a snow researcher at the University of Utah.

Skiles led a study published in Environmental Research Letters that highlights a particularly critical variable needed for snow forecasting models to adapt to a fast changing world: dust.

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